Matt Sawyer is Head of SEO at Datadial, and agreed to tell us about the ins and outs of his role, as part of our new 'day in the life' series, which aims to shine a light on what digital professionals do during an average working day.
If you fancy doing something similar to Matt for a living then be sure to check out the search marketing jobs on our digital jobs board.
Alternatively, if you already work in the digital industry and would like a Day In The Life profile then you can throw your hat into the ring by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (please put your role in the subject line).
From time to time I like to compile some of the the more recent examples of 404 pages that I’ve seen, which stand out for their creativity. Here's my latest semi-regular round-up of the web's more entertaining error pages.
It’s worth pointing out in advance that not all of the following comply with best practice. If a user can’t find a page (typically the result of a broken link, which isn’t their fault, or a mis-typed URL, which is) then it is your job to guide them out of a hole.
In practice, this means a link back to your homepage at the very least, and preferably a search box, links to popular areas of your site, and some kind of messaging that tells the user what’s going on.
On top of that I think it is a good idea to throw in a little humour, context, and / or entertainment that makes light of a lame situation. To that end, these 12 examples should provide some inspiration for you to overhaul an often overlooked page on your site.
Your users may thank you for it. And hey, you might generate a few new inbound links from websites that like to compile these things!
It’s a case of déjà vu. A decade ago the rise in popularity of Flash steered many web designers down the wrong path. It wasn’t the fault of the technology, but of the people using the technology. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. I'm all for innovation, but innovation should not be regressive.
Make no bones about it, HTML5 design is a massive, musty elephant in the room, and it is about to charge. In its path lies a flailing, unarmed Jakob Nielsen, backed up with legions of user experience professionals, who are gently sobbing. GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, the noted elephant slayer, is nowhere to be seen.
So, below are some examples of user experience badness. The irony is that I spotted many of these examples in posts like this one, dedicated to ‘fresh HTML5 design inspiration’. For the purposes of clarity I am not pointing the finger of blame at HTML5 itself, but the 'HTML5 design' themes seen on lots of sites which suffer from the issues outlined below.
When I first started working in the internet industry, back in 1874, a colleague said to me that I shouldn’t be daunted by the ridiculous number of acronyms that are seemingly used on a daily basis. I’d learn them in good time, he said. There was no need for panic stations.
Sure enough, I was bombarded with seemingly random three- and four-letter acronyms, from all directions. I hunkered down and gradually learned the most important ones. I’m somewhat allergic to jargon, but sometimes there is no getting around the fact that we need to speak the right language in digital marketing circles. There is only one way to describe ‘real-time bidding’ (RTB), and no amount of Plain English is going to improve that kind of phrase.
We used to have a glossary on a much older version of Econsultancy.com, but that’s long since vanished, so I thought I’d compile a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to help newbies to get up to speed with the lingo.
So here is a list of the most common acronyms that every digital marketer should know about. I think they cover most bases, though no doubt I have missed out a few obvious ones (by all means add them in the comments area below). Some of these are very much filed under 'marketing', whereas others lean more towards 'tech' (but are included as you are likely to cross their paths at some point). For the purposes of brevity I shan’t define each one: that’s what Google / Wikipedia is for.
Ok, here goes...
Agile project management is something that many tech teams have adopted in the past few years, to rapidly build and develop new products, and to finesse existing ones. There is a focus on sprints, and on getting things done quickly.
Increasingly, we are seeing the signs that marketing teams are also becoming more agile. Consider the amount of advertising and marketing that is based around a news hook. This is nothing new, but it seems to be on the rise.
Social media might be one reason why agile marketing is on the rise. Brands have spent the last few years figuring out how to react on the likes of Twitter and Facebook. They now know what works, in terms of the type of content they share and produce. Social media has also allowed a lot of brands to establish a new tone of voice: more human, more transparent, and - as we shall see - more humourous.
The ability to react quickly on social channels is important, to nip things in the bud, and to encourage interaction and engagement. Many companies are now doing this well, and some have figured out that rapid response can be applied to marketing more broadly. If done correctly, it will be amplified on social media (note the number of 'favourites' and 'retweets' in the Super Bowl tweets below). Earned media FTW.
I thought I’d compile a bunch of examples of agile marketing, although, by way of a caveat, some of these things may have been planned a little while in advance. While I can’t be absolutely sure of the processes involved or speed of execution, I do know that these examples are mainly ‘reactionary’, be that a response to a news story, to customer or user feedback, or to another brand. I have a bunch of ideas on how to structure an agile marketing team and the kind of processes to put in place, but I’ll explore all of that in a separate post.
Ok, let’s check them out...
The smartphone has completely transformed my experience of the internet. So long as there is a half-decent connection I can access information whenever I want, and wherever I am. Apart from the carnage it causes during pub quizzes, you’d have to say that the mobile web is a very good thing indeed.
However there is a problem. Most brands are still playing catch up, with regards to the user experience (including Econsultancy).
Some have launched standalone mobile sites - not a good move, in my view - while others have created apps for mobile users, of varying quality. But it’s still relatively early, with mobile in the ascendency. There is much to learn.
Progress is being made, however. The more forward-thinking brands are undertaking responsive design projects, so their existing websites will be rendered in a friendly way for all kinds of screen sizes. Some brands are doubling down, by launching apps as well as transforming their websites for mobile usage (there shouldn’t be an ‘either/or’ argument if you’re in a position to do both).
But here’s one thing that I think needs to change: the monstrous pop-up overkill that is happening across the mobile web.
Top restaurants are all about ‘the experience’. It’s not just the amazing food, or the wonderful service, or the charming ambience, or the table with a view. As such, it is somewhat ironic that restaurant websites are serial offenders when it comes to bastardising the user experience.
There can be no excuses for it any longer: it is 2013, not 2003. The age of animated Flash websites is long gone, yet many top restaurants persist with awfully wacky loading sequences and the kind of ‘innovative’ navigation that requires superhuman levels of patience, and a degree in particle physics to work out how to use it.
I thought I’d cobble together a handy A-Z checklist of dos and don’ts, for anybody interested in revamping or building a new website for a restaurant, or for restaurateurs that need to know what to ask for.
Content marketing is currently battling ‘big data’ and ‘responsive design’ for the hottest digital marketing phrase of the year. Yet the truth is that while the label has grown in popularity, the notion that content marketing is new is something of a curve ball.
Many brands have been producing regular content for many years, and already appreciate the value of blogs, surveys, whitepapers and videos. They understand the power of content and understand how it can attract the right kind of attention.
But what is new is that content marketing roles are being created, and teams are being restructured. Content is becoming more tactical as a result.
I see content marketing is a kind of umbrella term for five disciplines: editorial, marketing, PR, SEO and social. It is the glue that bonds these things together, and a predefined content marketing strategy can help these teams to focus on long-term goals.
In this article I’m aiming to outline the various factors behind a successful content marketing strategy, partly for our own benefit (we hired our first content marketer last summer), and partly as a thinking out loud exercise so that you can tell me what I’ve missed. Please leave any pointers and ideas in the comments section below.
Contextual advertising has been a big hit over the past half a decade or so, though I wonder whether it suffers from a kind of shotgun approach, whereby you can simply choose a bunch of keywords, pull a lever, and then put your feet on the desk.
Sure, this is typically better than blasting out your message without any concerns about targeting, but it's almost too easy to reach the masses, and you can end up with egg on your face. Context isn't always a positive thing.
As with all advertising, the creative elements of a campaign are meant to stand out for the right reasons, yet every year we see amusing new examples of contextual advertising that's gone wrong in some way.
Here are 16 of the more ironic ad placements I've seen over the past year or so (most of which are contextual). They are often funny, ridiculous and horrendous all at the same time.
Perhaps we'll see less of them in the years ahead as targeted advertising tools evolve, but for now we should understand the importance of choosing a few negative keywords when you programme your next campaign.
I’ve written about inspiring 404 pages in the past, as every site will break from time to time, and I think it makes sense to put in a little thought to how you handle errors.
Your visitors will be more forgiving of errors if you make them smile, ideally while helping them find their way. Also, clever, witty or charming 404 pages can be great for inbound links (as proved by this post).
I wouldn’t file all of the following examples under ‘best practice’, as in some cases there should be better navigation options, but many of them are humorous and on-brand, and may help you to figure out what you can do with yours.